Bengals’ O-line decimated as they look ahead to Buffalo


CINCINNATI — The Bengals managed to survive and advance.

However, their victory over the Ravens may have cost them another starter on offense.

Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-17 on Sunday night, winning a playoff game for the first time in consecutive years in franchise history.

The Bengals likely lost a third offensive lineman within a month when left tackle Jonah Williams left in the second quarter with a left knee injury.

The Ravens sacked Joe Burrow four times Sunday, the most since he was sacked five times by the Browns on Halloween in the last game Cincinnati lost before their current nine-game winning streak.

Now the Bengals (13-4) face Buffalo (14-3) on Sunday, potentially with three backups in an offensive line that was retooled with three free agents and a rookie ahead of the season. Jackson Carman, who has played guard since being called up by the Bengals in 2021, replaced Williams to end Sunday’s game and could start in the left tackle against the Bills.

“We’re going to see who’s available and do our best to represent them and make them work,” said Bengals coach Zac Taylor.

The second-placed Bills beat the Dolphins 34-31 in a wild card game on Sunday.

“At this point it doesn’t matter what the seed is. Every game is going to be a dogfight and we knew it,” said Taylor. “You go through all the peaks and valleys with all the people in this room. You’re there every step of the way – to get to the playoffs, and it can be over in the blink of an eye. Our guys didn’t want that to happen, so they found a way to move on.”

For the second straight week, big plays turned the game on defense.

In the Bengals’ 27-16 win over the Ravens in the regular-season finals, Cincinnati rookie quarterback Anthony Brown made two interceptions and recovered from his fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

In Sunday’s win, the defensive outcome was even more unlikely. In the fourth quarter, Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley attempted to sneak in from Bengals 1, but the outstretched ball was knocked loose and into the arms of Defensive end Sam Hubbard, who rumbled 98 yards the other way for a TD.

“I was excited. I got up and ran down the sidelines,” receiver Ja’Marr Chase said. “That was cool to see.”

Cincinnati hasn’t played a full game in over a month. Dominant quarters or halves were just enough during the nine-game winning streak. The offensive falters. The running game is ineffective.

On Sunday, the Ravens had a chance to level the game in the final game when Huntley heaved a desperate pass into the end zone and the tipped ball went off James Proche’s fingers.

Hubbard was joined by a cadre of teammates on his long sprint across the field and required oxygen to get to the bench. His 98-yard fumble return was the longest in NFL postseason history. The fifth-year veteran is captain and one of the emotional leaders of the Cincinnati defense.

“You can’t even make that up,” said Hubbard, who grew up in Cincinnati and played at Ohio State. “It was a hard-fought game with many adversities. Being the guy that gets through is an amazing feeling.”

Kicker Evan McPherson missed his fifth extra point this season.

It was not announced whether injuries to Williams and right guard Alex Cappa (ankle) will end their seasons. Williams was spotted in the dressing room with a crutch and a soft cast on his leg after the game.

106 – Bengals’ combined rushing yards in consecutive games against Baltimore.

Cincinnati is traveling to the Bills three weeks after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field at Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2, resulting in the cancellation of the teams’ regular-season game.

“It’s going to be another juice game,” said Bengals safety Jessie Bates III. “We’re usually good when it’s cold, so we’re ready.”

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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